Friday, July 19, 2024

What To Know About Marijuana And Gun Ownership

With recent high profiles convictions – the case of guns rights and marijuana use has come back into the spotlight.

Recently, there has been a series of high profile people have have been convicted which has started the conversation about guns and marijuana. Under federal law, felons are prohibited from owning or possessing guns. But,  some states allows a felon’s rights to own a gun after serving their sentence or a waiting period.  But it is a process. Roughly 32% of U.S. adults say they own a gun and 44%, report living in a gun household.

But almost half of Americans have tried weed at one point.  Of course, they haven’t committed a crime, they have just consumed marijuana. Almost 85% believe it should be legal in some form.  And over 50% of the population have access to legal cannabis.


But, if you own a firearm and use marijuana you are in violation of federal law. It is unlawful for an unauthorized user of a controlled substance, including marijuana, to possess, ship, transport, or receive firearms or ammunition. It is also unlawful to sell a firearm or ammunition to any person if the seller knows or has reasonable cause to believe that such person is an unlawful user of marijuana. In this context, unlawful use is based on federal law. Therefore, any person who uses marijuana, even if legal under state law, is prohibited from possessing or purchasing firearms or ammunition.

Should Budtenders Be Allowed To Carry Guns?
Photo by Lumppini/Getty Images

This prohibition does not apply to users of hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) or hemp products because these are not controlled substances for purposes of federal law, thanks to the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act, known as the 2018 Farm Bill.

In order to purchase a firearm from a federally licensed dealer, an individual must complete Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) Form 4473, which asks if you are an “unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana,” and includes a warning that the recreational and medical use of cannabis under state law does not alter the federal Controlled Substances Act which makes it illegal to possess, manufacture, or distribute marijuana. It is a separate crime to lie about your marijuana use on the form. You can also be subject to heightened criminal penalties if found in possession of a firearm and marijuana at the same time.

RELATED: What Would Happen If Gun Laws Were Enforced Like Marijuana Laws?

If you are a medical marijuana user, it may be possible for law enforcement to obtain this information from a medical marijuana patient registry or state database to confirm your use of marijuana. Several states, including Maryland, have tried to protect medical marijuana patients by preventing state police from accessing the medical cannabis patient registry to verify whether a firearm applicant uses medical marijuana. However, some states, like Hawaii, explicitly grant law enforcement access to the state’s medical cannabis patient registry to evaluate whether an individual can legally possess a firearm.

RELATED: The Battle Between Gun Ownership And Medical Marijuana In Conservative States

Regardless of whether a state grants access to patient databases, the possession of a firearm and ammunition remains illegal federally if you are a cannabis user. Restricting access to medical marijuana databases simply makes it harder to determine whether a firearm applicant uses marijuana.

Firearms remain out-of-reach for cannabis consumers, even if your state has legalized cannabis. States cannot change the federal requirements for gun ownership and have no authority to supersede the ATF Form 4473 guidance documents that addresses marijuana use and gun ownership. Therefore, until marijuana is fully legalized on the federal level, it’s important to remember to keep your hands off those firearms.



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